June 19th, 2008
12:35 PM ET
13 years ago

Roberts: The Obamacons


Watch John Roberts discuss Sen. Obama's historic candidacy with Armstrong Williams.

NEW YORK (CNN) - Conservative talk radio host Armstrong Williams has never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate. In fact, he says he has never even thought about the opposition. But this year – as Williams told me on today’s American Morning - things might be different. At the very least, he is thinking about the opposition. A lot. “You cannot help but look at and realize,” he told me, “that if Senator Obama wins, it’ll be the first time that someone would occupy the White House other than white men of America.”

For many Americans, that’s a heady thought – one that could be transformational in so many ways. Yet at the same time, Williams insists, Obama’s race is not a factor in his seesawing political emotions. “There’s no way I could vote for a candidate because of his race”, Williams said, “because it would contradict everything I’ve ever written and said in the past about racial politics. But, I’m open”.

So can we believe that race isn’t a factor in this rock-ribbed Republican’s potential conversion, particularly since Williams says about Obama’s policies “there’s not much I can embrace now”? Let’s consider former Republican Congressman J.C. Watts’ thoughts on the matter. Watts is one of a number of “Obamacons” – conservatives, including many African-Americans, who are giving the Senator a good, hard look. Obamacons believe he may be the best-equipped to take on poverty and urban policy, issues that are as important to them as low taxes and constructionist judges. Williams told me today “It would be foolish of me to say you cannot look at his candidacy and realize there’s something here that not only America but the world is ecstatic about.”

Obamacons believe he may be good for what ails the nation and the world.

As enticing as it might seem, the Obama medicine would be tough for Republicans to swallow. Pundits joke that the Senator’s policies make Ted Kennedy look like a conservative. Could they really set aside his views on taxes and abortion? Could they ignore the type of judges he would appoint to the Supreme Court? At this point, Williams isn’t sure. He hopes Obama might make enough progress on issues like capital gains and partial birth abortion to make him comfortable, but so far, there’s no suggestion of that. But William’s 82 year-old mother is committed. “She’s determined, and she’s voting for him,” he told me. “She never thought she would live to see the day that she would see the progress of America where we could show people that we’ve moved beyond this silly issue of race.” And for Obamacons, that may be the deciding factor.

soundoff (166 Responses)
  1. James B. New Jersey

    Jan From Boca Raton, Fl I am offended that you would generalize the black community is such a way. I find you accusations to be down right prejudice. I have held a job since I was 14 years old. I was laid off just before 9/11 and went to school full time and paid for it while collecting unemployment. When my regular benifits ran out I used the education benifits and took a training course while still going to school full time. Black people don't use the system like you imply anymore that some whites use the system.

    June 19, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. Independent LAWYER for Obama

    Hey Jan in Boca Raton – spite-filled and resentful much?

    "He will also make history when he continues for the blacks , more food stamps, more low cost housing, free health care, unempleoyment (sic) while they all sit home on their butts, drive new cars and buy designer clothes while we the tax payers pay for their free benefits."

    Really? I think if welfare and unemployment paid so well that everyone had designer clothes, new cars, and free health care, no one would be stupid enough to try to work. I mean, I'm an attorney, but I would sign up for that plan. Since unemployment's only around 5%, something must be wrong with your argument.

    I'll try to explain what that is: it's moronic, misspelled, overly-simplistic, and generally reveals a nastiness and prejudice that is shameful.

    June 19, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. Sickandtired

    This is to Jan from Boca Raton:

    I really hope you don't believe that it is just black people receiving welfare/food stamps, low cost housing and free healthcare. If you didn't know before now, let me just tell you that Black people are not the only people that receive those benefits. And we're not the majority receiving them.

    And for the record... It was the election of your "white" president Reagan that gave me all the incentive I needed to better myself. I worked my way up through the ranks to get where I am today without a dime from White people. I am so sick of people thinking that Black people don't have the brains to know who would be the better president.

    All you white people that think Blacks are voting for Obama because he's Black are probably only voting for McCain because he's not Black. All I want to know is what is the difference between the two?

    June 19, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. Lawrence... Raleigh, NC

    All this founding father worship makes me sick. Just because Obama's politics aren't in line with a bunch of white propertied men, most of whom owned slaves, does not mean he is un-American. I'm not saying that the majority of the principles that they built this country on aren't good, but they weren't perfect. It's time for Change!

    June 19, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. Canuck

    what a bunch of bull. for every obamacon, there is a hillary support who is going to switch sides. end result no change in votes. the key is when people stop watch re-runs of america idol and start looking at obama they will realize what a sham he is.

    June 19, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  6. Roofin Reality, Houston, Tx.

    Armstrong, never liked much your policies. But, I did respect your right to hold those positions.
    I hope you will vote for Obama, but if it's for race, that would be flat our wrong. I'll take it, let me be clear. But, it would be wrong.
    Here's hoping you do the right thing.

    And for JC, here's hoping that you can play a part in an Obama administration.

    June 19, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  7. James B. New Jersey

    By the way Jan. I bettered myself and got a job in 10 months so for the last 22 years I have not worked a job only 10 months. Hows that for a black person outside your narrow minded world.

    June 19, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. zack

    Armstrong Williams, JC Watts, Colin Powell, and hey maybe even Clarence Thomas, just might vote for Obama.

    they may not admit it. But there is something about Obama that definitely gives blk republicans a 2nd thought...race or not...

    Obama is not a liberal-he's a progressive, meaning, he wants us to grow and PROGRESS and realize that we are all in this together. Conservatives by definition twist the constitutional definition of personal liberty to selfishly balk at change fearing the risks outweigh the ignorant stability they enjoy now, unless it would clearly benefit themselves of course.

    Armstrong Williams, JC Watts, Colin Powell, and Condoleeza Rice, and Clarence Thomas have reaped the benefits of a progressive civil rights and affirmative action system. Unfortunately they fail to realize that they are leaving the rest of their own families and community behind by supporting agendas that seek to prevent them from having reached their statuses in the first place.

    Time for them to come home.

    June 19, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  9. Ula Nejad- Sacramento Ca

    Not unless Obama can prove to global powers he has money in the bank to join the club of white men. But of course dear old granny has come a long way.

    June 19, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  10. Len

    A liberal elitest with socialistic economic views. NO THANKS

    Anyone that says they will tax me more, just lost my vote.

    McCain 08

    June 19, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  11. Pol

    We cannot elect McCain – the world will make fun on America – old and sick uncle Sam! However, still very agressive...

    If we elect Obama most countries will respect us and we will have a chance...no matter what.

    Simple like the truth.

    June 19, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  12. David Goldman







    June 19, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  13. Boye

    As a Black Obama supporter, I cannot but say that I do not like how many African Americans are behaving (i.e. this Williams guy). In my opinion, he is considering his vote based on race, and that is disgusting at best. I think it is a shame when people resort to this. I am proud to be a Democrat and an Obama supporter but he does truly reflect my views. Shame on you Williams and I for one don't welcome your vote.

    June 19, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  14. Brian Knoxville, TN

    re Jan From Boca Raton, Fl

    You are nothing more than a racist!

    June 19, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. Bella from Florida

    To be honest, I am very skeptical about Obama. We are going through some tough times in our country and to support a man who has had very little experince in the Senate is mind -boggling to me.

    June 19, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  16. Terri in Fl

    Boy Jan in Boca, you sure don't know much about Obama do you. I would recommend you go to his web site and read what his position is on things. You'll see one consistant theme on there – there are no free rides – if you get something you owe something back.

    Obama's approach really reminds me of Kennedy's stance "ask not what your country does for you but what you can do for your country".

    June 19, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. Jason

    RACE conquers all. Even truth and liberty.

    What a sham

    June 19, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  18. Veronica from nj

    Jan from boca raton you are so ignorant!!!

    OBAMA 08!!!

    June 19, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  19. Bishop

    McCainacons are in love with a myth created and a candidate anointed by the extreme right-wing media and the Republican Party.

    The United States of America is being de-Americanized, and McCain would accelerate this sad process! 🙁

    If you are turned on by an AAA for president, Bush version 3 would be authentic choices for the White House or the VP slot.

    McCain obfuscates and avoids straight talk. 🙁

    This HUMAN will not vote for McCain

    June 19, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  20. Mark Cross Junction VA

    John Roberts is is wuss and a suck up. OBAMA way is the way to a depression!

    June 19, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  21. Heidi

    Vote for someone that isn't lying to you every other second and letting other people say all the nasty stuff for him. Vote for someone that cares about the American People and not just a power monger!

    VOTE NADER 2008!!!!

    June 19, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  22. MLG

    Race should not be an issue for voting for someone. It should be what they plan on doing for our country. I guess more people are worried about race. I will not vote for Obama. McCain 08

    June 19, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  23. Timber

    If this is not racist, then what is?

    June 19, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  24. SMOQ

    you know i would comment, but some of this is plain stoopid... look, and the tax plans alone, if you make under 2.5 million-the mccain tax plan is not for you cause you won't get the true benefit of the plan...additionally ..mccain will kep us in Iraq LONG ENOUGH FOR YOUR 12 YR OLD TO BE GOING TO WAR IN IRAQ WITH A AK 47 IN HAND RIGHT AFTER HIGH SCHOOL
    ALSO how many know the definitiaon of liberal.........here a a few : synonyms liberal, generous, bountiful, munificent mean giving or given freely and unstintingly. liberal suggests openhandedness in the giver and largeness in the thing or amount given...IS THSI REALLY SUCH A BAD THING AS PEOPLE PORTRAY IT.....our govt SHOULD help tax paying citizens, (They helped Bear Stearns with my tax dollars, why not me) SHOULD protect us by ADEQUATELY funding the govt departments put here to protect consumers of Food, investors in the Securities markets, not to mention those that drive over bridges.......and on our roads.....pls note the FDA only received their funding for the year about a week after the tainted tomatoes were being reported......it is a dam shame................that anyone would wnat to keep our govt as if is .........

    June 19, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  25. Linda1234

    It has long scared me, as a liberal Democrat, that Obama is not the liberal he presents himself. Now the Obamacons are scaring me more...how liberal can a big city Chicago Daley machine candidate with ties to Rezko be? One can only hope he's more liberal than a war mongering Republican!

    June 19, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
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